Nick Clegg The Death of Voting Reform 37

I am a strong supporter of proportional representation, by the single transferable vote. I believe it would open up our politics and roll back some of the corporatism that makes our national politics so unresponsive. The purpose of this post is not to argue that case; we can do that another day.

Alternative Vote seems to me only very marginally preferable to first past the post. Rather than everyone having a good chance to be represented in a multi-member constituency, increasing diversity, AV advantages the inoffensive, it brings the elevation of mundanity. It is only marginally better than FPTP, which advantages the offensive and the funded to the exclusion of everyone else. The main reason I shall vote yes in the referndum is that at least AV will dispense with the ridiculous argument that the British people are incapable of ranking 1,2,3.

But after Barnsley Central it must be extremely likely that the AV referendum will be lost, because the electorate will fear it will bring an electoral advantage to Nick Clegg.

I rejoined the LibDems after Norwich North because I learnt from that experience that electoral politics in the UK are near impossible for an individual to crack. Ironic then that, as just an individual, I polled very nearly as well in Norwich North as the LibDems did in Barnsley – not just as a whole national party, but as a party in government. Indeed, as just an individual in Blackburn in 2005 I polled significantly better than the LibDems did in Barnsley Central.

Not only did I rejoin the LibDems, but at the LibDem Special Conference in Birmingham I voted for the coalition. But that was for a coalition agreement that bears no relation to what the government has actually done. I did not vote for £9,000 tuition fees. The LibDems could have abstained on tuition fees as the agreement I voted for provided – but it turns out that agreement was merely to placate the membership and bore no relation to what the right wing enthusiast Clegg actually intended to do in government.

Free schools, £9,000 tuition fees, ideological market mechanism reform of the NHS bringing yet more bureaucracy, internal invoicing, accountants and waste, 28 day detention, the continuation of control orders, war without end, children still in immigration detention, no sign of an open inquiry on complicity with torture…. I shall be astonished if anyone votes LibDem ever again. There must be some extremely happy Tories out there. Did they always know Clegg would turn out to be to the right of Thatcher?

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37 thoughts on “Nick Clegg The Death of Voting Reform

  • Mike Dobson

    You could have as easily titled this "The death of the Liberal Party."

    And as one who voted for them, I have learnt a valuable lesson.
    It doesn't matter what form of PR we have – and AV is a bad version – the ruling powers will continue to dominate anyway.

    I vent my frustrations on my MP- Paul Burstow – o little avail on NHS matters – he has ministerial responsibilities in this area.
    Basically junior partners in any coalition will turn out to be the Stepford Wives of their majority partners.

    I regret that only open action and civil disobedience might produce any good result.
    The Arab world is setting us a good example.

    Ballot box reform is not necessarily a waste of time but akin to fiddling whilst Rome burns.

    By the time any parliamentary reform is achieved in voting methods the hard won welfare state reforms of post WW2 will be in tatters.

    I wish you would encourage your readers to take direct action rather than indulge in intellectual masturbation on tweaking the electoral system …maybe 20% (?) further in a good direction.

    Time too short – jobs are being lost NOW…etc.


    • Clarq

      Mike, AV isn't a proportional system. It isn't meant to be and it doesn't attempt to be. It's a way of ensuring majority support (ie 50% of votes or greater) for the representative of single-representative constituencies. It was chosen to maintain the "link between constituencies and their representatives", which has always been advanced as the advantage of FPTP.

      But yes, it would be good to somehow get everyone out on the streets at the same time.

  • DavidB

    Now if the idea of PR is to bring a representative parliament, then how can everyone be so upset that the Libdems are in coalition with the Tories? Is what the complainers want a permanent coalition of LibDems and Labour? Is it any better to replace a stupid system where two parties each have turn about at imposing their minority view on everyone with a quasi one party state of LibDem and Labour in perpetuity?

    I think the AV system is no better at all than the present system. It will continue to deny representation to the say 40% of Barnsley citizens who bothered to vote this week. Worse, it will strengthen the power of party machines.

    The system of STV used in Scotland works. It allows small parties to be elected. In the multimember constituencies a person can elect a party which is not the largest one in their ward. Independents are elected. The people learn quickly how it works.

    If we are to have voting reform then the whole package needs looked at. I want the Swiss system where politicians are bound by popular referenda. I think voting should be compulsory – one can always spoil one's ballot paper. There should be residence requirements for candidates – you should stand where you live and vice versa. There should be time limits – POTUS stylee – to office. And many many more.

    But really, I could imagine nothing worse than permanent rule by Labour/LibDem in perpetuity. So the LibDems are in coalition with the Tories? So what. Better 10% of something than 100% of nothing. Live with it. It is actually a good argument in favour of PR. It shows the LD's to be their own men, not little Labour.

  • SJB

    Craig writes: "But after Barnsley Central it must be extremely likely that the AV referendum will be lost, because the electorate will fear it will bring an electoral advantage to Nick Clegg."

    There are a lot of disgruntled anti-EU Tory voters who feel Cameron has reneged on the promises he made in opposition. I think the majority of this cohort will vote in favour of AV because they can then choose UKIP as their first choice and the Conservatives as their second. I suspect supporters of other minor parties will also vote 'yes'. In addition, I think those who want to see the back of FPTP are more likely to vote – important if the turnout is low.

  • CanSpeccy

    "electoral politics in the UK are near impossible for an individual to crack…"

    i.e., MP's are not representatives of their constituencies, just lobby fodder selected for subservience by the party machine.

    "I voted for the coalition. But that was for a coalition agreement that bears no relation to what the government has actually done."

    Exactly. So why was it, again, that a few weeks ago you were urging young people to join the Liberal party?

    "I am a strong supporter of proportional representation"

    The idea that proportional representation would make a significant difference seems totally nuts. Who ever you vote for you'll have a government headed by a member of Conservative/Liberal/Monster Raving Fascist Party Friends of Israel and who to all intents and purposes is also a member of All Party Friends of George Soros and Other Very Rich People Who Reward Politicians for Services Rendered Upon Leaving Office. (Now it's our turn to make some money — Cherie Blair on leaving Downing St.).

    And you presume to tell the Libyan people they should get rid of Gadhafi!

    Liberalism is dead — brain dead, that is. Chris Hedges' death of the Liberal Class tells you something about how Liberals became pillars of the fascist state.

    • CheebaCow

      "The idea that proportional representation would make a significant difference seems totally nuts. Who ever you vote for you'll have a government headed by a member of Conservative/Liberal/Monster Raving Fascist Party…"

      I'm curious, what is your proposed alternative?

      "And you presume to tell the Libyan people they should get rid of Gadhafi! "

      I believe the Libyan people made that decision all by themselves.

      • CanSpeccy

        "I'm curious, what is your proposed alternative?"

        There is no alternative, if you mean some minor adjustment of the present system. The present system is a fig leaf for plutocracy. The government is bought, the MP's are mere adjuncts of the government — people of plausible address unable to find better paying work, with such short hours.

        If you want a real democracy, you first need to make it truly representative, which means that local party organizations, not party headquarters have total control over who will represent them.

        You then need to get the money out of the system, which means 100% taxpayer funding of elections with jail for politicians taking money from lobbyists of any kind, and treason charges against politicians like Clegg and Cameron and Milliband and Griffin who take money from organizations such as Liberal/Con/Lab/Fascist Democrat Friends of Israel that serve foreign interests.

        Then you need a free press. That means, dismantling the great news vending organizations such as NewsCrap (Poop Murdoch, Prop.) — lots of luck with that. There should be a limit of one channel per owner. Then you'd see some diversity of opinion.

        But I see this as entirely utopian. We are an empire now and empires are democratic only in name, if that. The unique feature of the western empire is that the PR is good enough that people think they are free and that they form their own opinions.

        At the end of WWi, George Kreel head of the US Public Information Agency controlled 75,000 speakers who addressed audiences in cinemas, churches and other public places in support of the war. Today, presumably Cass Sunstein has as many, perhaps many more, addressing the public through channels such as this.

        • CheebaCow

          I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. I just find it hard to reconcile the fact that you seem to have a decent grasp on the faults of western governments yet you seem to think Gadhafi and Mubarak aren't so bad.

          In regards to the free press, I do think strong media ownership laws would definitely be beneficial but wouldn't solve all the problems. The reason for this is that since the printing press was invented, each new iteration of the media has become increasingly expensive to enter into. From pamphlets to local papers to national papers to local TV stations to national TV networks to global TV networks, having a media voice is now all but impossible for 99% of the worlds population. As such, all mainstream media only ever represents the views of the super elite, even if they sometimes disagree with one another. Maybe the internet can change this dynamic, but currently the net is still a long way from replacing the traditional mainstream media as a way of shaping national dialogue.

    • Mike Dobson

      Chris Hedges is spot on in analysis and proposed ACTIONS – which he leads by example not just a keyboard.
      Read his book death of liberal class or if you want a tatster check out his articled on Truth dig or interviews on Youtube….

  • Gary Stockdale

    The problem with Welfare is that it has become an institution rather than a safety net. I live in an area where welfare claimants wear more expensive clothes than working people. Friends visit me from aboard and they are bewildered by what they see. People are overweight, have smart phones, dogs, branded clothes and flat screen TV's and yet do not work. During the credit crisis, not one pub, takeaway or betting shop closed in my area.
    I am no Tory. But the Big Society is about trying to get people to understand that they should look to their own communities to solve their welfare problems.
    The sad fact is many people will not get the pension they believe they are due. The state scheme for instance is rather like Madoff's ponzi scheme. It relies on contributions in to pay those taking benefits.
    The real crime is not telling people the truth. But the UK is not alone. The USA, Japan, Italy and France are all at risk of bankruptcy in 10 years or so.
    The best providers of welfare, are you, your friends and family and community.

    • Clarq

      This is a difficult point and it's taken me ages to figure out even this inadequate response. Yes, I too see claimants that seem to have unnecessary luxuries, but I was reluctant to give you any agreement because benefits are a vital lifeline to many others. I suppose that if you have a set of rules for eligibility, some people will learn to exploit those rules. The poorest people are the ones that don't claim their benefits (most notably the homeless) or those that claim only some (mostly the elderly and the infirm).

      And yes, our community should really be the source of our support in hard times, not a faceless bureaucracy based on a tangle of piecemeal rules. We are evolved and adapted to live in communities where our responses to each other are based on our knowledge of each other's reputations. Such communities have to be small enough for our little brains to remember the reputations of the other members, so in the order of a few hundred people.

      Affluence is the huge hand that has stirred our communities into an homogeneous mass. People know next to nothing about most of the other people even in their own street. Affluence has given us the ability to work miles from where we live, with people we don't know, and to easily up and move to a new area where no one knows us. Community support in such a society would neglect many in real need.

      Affluence also sets the background level upon which benefits have to be based. "Luxuries" have become "necessities". Private transport has eroded away public transport, and decimated local facilities. Attending a ten minute appointment at my "local" hospital generally takes at least four hours traveling by public transport, because the bus service at my end runs only two-hourly. Even seeing my GP takes nearly three hours because of this. What were the public utilities are now run as businesses for profit; can people really manage without Internet access these days? If benefits have to be high to accommodate such things, some of that benefit will be misused.

      Sorry, I see no easy answer. Cutting benefits and eligibility is causing much hardship for the most deserving. Still, maybe benefit payments are not really so wasteful anyway. All that money goes straight back into circulation. And it's not as if there are loads of jobs just waiting for these people to fill them.

    • Duncan_McFarlan

      The truth though, is that there are always millions more people unemployed in the UK than there are jobs for them, during recessions or booms. By the third quarter of 2010 government figures show there were 2.45 million people unemployed and just 453,000 job vacancies – that’s almost 2 million more people unemployed than job vacancies – or over 5 people unemployed for each job vacancy (source is the Office for National Statistics). Those figures massively under-estimate the real number unemployed, because governments of both main parties have spent decades fiddling them to make them look better – and because they're based on unemployment benefit claimant counts ; and it takes several weeks after becoming unemployed before you can claim unemployment benefit.

      In 2000 during an economic boom Chancellor Gordon Brown claimed there was a job for anyone that wanted one – but to do so he used counting methods which he had condemned as a fraud when the Conservatives had used them. ILO stats estimated 600,000 more people unemployed than jobs available, while research by the TUC estimated 3 million more people unemployed than jobs available – a figure backed up by Economic and Social Research Council research.

      So if you're going to say everyone has to work or lose benefits you're going to have to first create enough jobs for everyone – and the last time we had full employment was during the second world war (and i'm not advocating a third one as the solution)

  • Clarq

    AV has one big advantage – it unshackles the voters. Under AV it's no longer necessary to vote for a lizard you can tolerate just to keep the really bad lizard out. If you want an independent, or a candidate from a small party, give them you "1" vote. Then, in case they don't get many votes, give your least despised lizard vote "2". Of course, this depends upon the voters learning how to use the system, but I think that will happen.

    AV is also a decent stepping-stone to STV, as AV is the same as STV but for single-representative constituencies.

    As for the Lib-Dems; well, if a candidate is good, under AV they'd have no need to remain tied to a failing party. Just leave the party and stand as an independent.

    • CheebaCow

      "AV has one big advantage – it unshackles the voters. Under AV it's no longer necessary to vote for a lizard you can tolerate just to keep the really bad lizard out."

      Exactly. In Australia AV has certainly helped the smaller parties such as the Democrats and the Greens. It's also interesting that after the Democrats sold out their voting base and made a deal with the devil (Liberals), the Greens were straight away able to replace the Democrats role of keeping the 2 major parties in check. I believe that AV played a role in this dynamic as it allowed voters to throw in with the new party without flushing their vote down the drain.

      "Of course, this depends upon the voters learning how to use the system, but I think that will happen. "

      I have faith you Brits will be able to work it all out. If the colonials can wrap their heads around it, anyone can.

  • Paul Johnston

    Gary Not sure what your area is but round here (Hattersley) the pubs and takeaways are closing at an alarming rate!
    I would not vote for AV because I know who I want in and do not wish to choose the others on a least offensive scale.

    • Clarq

      Well you can do that under AV. Just give your preferred candidate your "1" vote, and don't put down any more preferences, just like FPTP.

      Yes it is bad to see so many small businesses closing. The big parties all lurve Big Business.

    • Jon

      You know who you want in – well, that probably puts you in a minority!

      Most peoples' dilemma, I should think, is that anybody who has more than an outside chance of being voted in is not worth voting for. Such is the process of the corruption of principles, slice by slice, until most parties – if not most MPs also – are representatives for the wealthy elite, rather than ordinary people.

      In the last election, there was no chance I'd vote Labour – how they managed to end up with a neocon and war-criminal like Blair is anyone's guess. Voting Tory is no option either, unless one is in favour of the dismantling of the welfare state and public health service. And the Lib Dems, whilst having a progressive agenda on paper, were headed by a right-winger who would be more at home in the Tory party anyway.

      Small-c conservative and/or militarist voters, on the other hand, had several parties to choose from.

  • Strategist

    >>I would not vote for AV because I know who I want in and do not wish to choose the others on a least offensive scale.

    Well, just cast your first preference vote then and don't bother with your second.
    But on what basis would you deny others the chance to do so

  • Sean Mannion

    "I am no Tory. But the Big Society is about trying to get people to understand that they should look to their own communities to solve their welfare problems."

    Really? I thought it was more about presenting a suitably vague and impenetrable front to veil over the axing of state investment in jobs, infrastructure, housing, benefits, and a public health system free for all at the point of entry; in short, the slow dismantling of post-war collective provision. But there you go…

  • anno

    Under we Mrs Thatcher we witnessed the ransacking of patriarchy by feminism and aristocracy by monetarism, and we had to learn to live with women and accountants controlling our lives. What is Clegg supposed to do except joy-ride Cameron? It's like AV. His first vote would be the restoration of family structure, his second, the restoration of doing things because they are worth doing and he is made to settle for third best, but better than New Labour war-mongering and gravy-training, Cameron's Big Society.

    The destruction of Education and the NHS was initiated by New Labour when they put doctors and head-teachers on corporate executive pay scales. Leaving them without administrative back-up so they would turn to well-organised private service providers. Clegg is a liar and a politician, but New Labour had already betrayed the cause of social justice and delivered the foundation for privatising UK plc long before he arrived.

    Our leaders are vastly worse than Mubarak and Gaddaffi, both in ruthless force and in embezzlement of national resources to their class. If we were to remain on the streets for more than a day, they would be shooting us with automatic weapons. This is a time for revolution, and the offer of AV or any other type of choice is pointless. What is the point of having a consultation on a new railway, if we can't afford the fares when it arrives? What is the point of an electoral system that allows a social democrat vote like New Labour or Liberal Democrat to be utilised by the neo-cons who rule us to destroy our rights and traditions? What is needed is a mechanism to hold politicians to account, and remove their ability to argue that democracy hands over to them absolute and unaccountable power.

  • Vronsky

    "The system of STV used in Scotland works."

    Let's be careful here. Strictly speaking, Scotland only has STV for local elections. this was introduced by the last Scottish parliament, being the Lib Dem's quid pro quo for supporting a Labour First Minister, Jack MacConnell (now, inevitably, Lord Something-Or-Other). Although the Lib Dems are regarded up here as political whores (with justification which you southerners may now be beginning to understand) we nevertheless have to thank them for this measure, which went far in breaking Labour's hold on municipal power.

    Elections to the Scottish Parliament are by the Additional Member (AM) system. A constituency MP is elected in the normal FPTP system, but electors have a second vote which they cast for a party, not a person. These second votes are totted up, and the highest will be allowed another member from their ‘list’ – a list compiled by the parties and placed in order by them, their favourite buddy at the top. This mean we select an MP, but while the remainder of the parliament may indeed somewhat reflect voters’ political preferences, they will never have voted specifically for those people – it preserves the influence of the party machine.

    My many fans here will recall that I favour sortition – election by lottery. That’s the only thing I can think of that will get rid of the party machine and the corrupt political class it has bred. Anyway I’ll be voting for AV tokenism though it be, despite there being a campaign here to spoil the referendum ballot paper by writing ‘Independence’ on it – the Lib Dems, you see, will not support a referendum on independence. Whores.

  • TonyF

    I am a LibDem party member and activist too. Clegg is the wrong man, in the wrong placen at the wrong time. In the last election the "Big Society" voted against giving the Conservatives free licence for all these cuts to pay for the bankers' huge mistakes. Having been denied power by the voting public, Nick Clegg gave the Tories the power to do what they wanted to do anyway. In this context, how and why do the LibDems deserve anything at all apart from a custard pie in the face and a knee in the groin – both of which they received last week in the by-election

    • rockitboy

      Tony – to listen to some senior party figures at the Perth conference, you would think that there actually two government, the nasty Tory one producing all those nasty Tory policies, and the cuddly Libdem one putting out a stream of sound policies and papers. In public they promote the notion that the party can win back support simply by talking up our 'achievements in government' without any acknowledgement that job losses and community service cuts are our achievements as well. Then to hear the likes Clegg and others gurgle on about how proud they are of being in government … god, it was all about as appetising as a cup of cold sick.

  • Gary Stockdale

    The democracy has is it tends to create large inefficiencies. Politicians need to create their own clients and so give away benefits to their supporter base, whether that be rich or poor. Gordon Brown tried to do this via expanding welfare dependency via the tax credit system, when using the tax code sysyem would have been more efficient. Another flaw of democracy is it is hard to get elected by taking tough decisions, so you get a pass the parcel effect. It is the fairest system, certainly if you have PR, but I am not sure it actually works. In Britain, the system is designed to discrimante against independents and small parties. This is often justified by keeping out extremists such as the BNP. Strange thing is by giving them a voice you actually do some good. When the BBC had Griffin on Question Time it was a master stroke. It just showed his policies were incoherent. Britain is an also has been a mixed society, if you applied his formula, everyone would be booted out.

  • rockitboy

    Gary – Paul J is right – what you might imagine to be expensive clothing is probably high-volume glitzy tat from the Far East (or counterfeit same). And as for relying on family and community – sorry, but that sounds like its straight out of Hobbiton in the Shire. There are many, many people who have no family or community which can provide that kind of support – its a fantasy. Whereas in a democracy the people have the right to expect their government to look out for their well-being, otherwise whats the point of having a democracy in the first place? Yes, I know that actual, real democracy has been ruthless and relentlessly compromised and corrupted, especially in the last 30 years, but I`m not about to put my faith in the markets! Dear me, no. The markets do not respond to wants or desires, nor do they address needs and problems – all they do is respond to buying power. So if you have the buying power, you get to choose from what the market masters provide; if you are so poor and destitute that you have little or no buying power, well, then just shuffle off to your hovels and die out of sight of the people who matter. (continues)

  • rockitboy

    (continued) I was at the Scot Libdems spring conference in Perth yesterday, sat in the audience for Clegg's speech and determinedly stayed seated with arms crossed when he got his standing ovation afterwards. A minor act of rebellion, perhaps, but meaningful for me. Later on I attended a fringe event held under the aegis of the Social Liberal Forum at which Mike Crockart MP basically gave the Clegg leadership line on the necessity of the coalition blahblahblah. During the open comment period I unleashed my outrage at what the party has done and become in 10 months, and to my surprise several others there came up to me afterwards to say how much they agreed.

    So now we wait for the May elections (with the ghost of Barnsley looming over all) and the AV referendum. Clegg has been a disaster as leader but sadly the party has yet to be persuaded that he is steering the handcart straight down to hell.

  • lwtc247

    "I am a strong supporter of X. I believe it would open up our politics and roll back some of the corporatism that makes our national politics so unresponsive"

    Craig. You said that of "The Liberal Democrats". It went rather pear-shaped didn't it. You were warned.

  • Gary Stockdale

    Unfortunately, it will not be British voters who decide. The bond markets will decide what Britain can afford as they will the USA, Japan Italy ect. In the end the creditor always has the upperhand. That is why many of the same trader who were should credit, now have shorts on Gilts, Treasuries and JGB's.

    And if you have a community, the absence of a family should not mean people suffer.

  • ingo

    after being told that my comment is a little too long, I shall start replying in one liners.

    AV is prechewed, an excuse for justifying electoral reform to the minimum, an ULTIMATUM worth nobody's support, calling it a rweferendum is grossly misleading.
    Reject it and spoil your ballot paper! Stand outside your council count and wave your shoes at these minimalist who dare nopt allow us a proper choice.
    I shall write 'Where is our PR choice?' on to my paper and if thousands do it, it will make the news, as these votes have to be counted.
    Parties will advise to only make one cross behind their favourite candidate, sure way of not aiding anyone else, don't be fooled by multiple choice.

    • Clarq

      Ingo, when you call for PR, make sure you specify STV, or the lizards will lumber us with a dreadful "List System", where you can only vote for lizards. But I think you should support this change. As a step, AV is almost half way to STV, and directly in line. And it can be good for small parties and independents. We only got this chance at the end of a very long administration. I suspect a result of "No" would be used to justify FPTP forever.

      I've never found your comments too long. Please continue to include all details you think relevant.

    • Jon

      I'd agree with Clark here. AV probably isn't the answer, but I think a move towards it is better than a rejection, which would hardwire us to FPTP for a few more generations. Of course, if we had a fair and reasonable political system, we'd be given a multiple choice referendum, and STV would be one of the options.

      Ah well.

  • Clydebuilt

    Quote Craig: "I voted for provided – but it turns out that agreement was merely to placate the membership and bore no relation to what the right wing enthusiast Clegg actually intended to do in government."

    Craig the only way to get change for the better in these islands is for the SNP to be successful.

    UK politics is full of placemen like Blair and Clegg ensuring that whoever wins at the ballot box nothing changes.

  • Chater

    Proportional representation is part of the package of reforms needed to clear up th mess the UK is in. But in itself it won't do much good, unless something can be done to curb the power of the Murdoch press to brainwash people into voting for war, waste and inequality.

    • Duncan_McFarlan

      Very true Chater. Countering the massive misinformation going out through the tabloids and much TV news (most of which tells a small part of the truth, which is as misleading as a lie) is probably an even bigger problem than the voting system.

      Al Jazeera English is one of the few exceptions among TV stations and it has been falsely labelled "pro-Al Qa'ida' so many times that the label has stuck for a lot of people.

  • lwtc247

    I didn't say it was because of CM.
    I know you admore CM. I do too. I contributed finacially to his Norwich campaign when he was standing as CM – Put an honest man into Parliament (which I'd still like to see happen!) but your admirmation of the man is making you do a default defense on an issue where really there isn't much legitimate defense at all.

    Blaming it on the heard of the party is rather lame for a number of reasons not least 'cos that the LD's claim to be run by a party/(double shadow)cabinet type of system, not a presidential system (unless there's been some change). The LD's will NOT be able to deliver on STV or varient of PR. Lab(Neo NeoCon) and Con(Old NeoCon) have too much to gain from FPTP. And come on, lets be honest the whole crappy system needs to be toppled and rebuilt from scratch by the ordinary good people not the ass scratchers, financial back scratchers, and indusrty/parliament revolving door idotic shits we have had for a LOOOONG time. The LD's biggest Lobby group is LDFI FFS!
    I wish Craig could pay a part in that toppling – be the catalyst of meaningful and actual beneficial change. Craig if he becomes a LD member will either be chained to the conventional mini-Lab / min-Con streak of the party or lose the whip. Let's be open and honest about that.

    Craig is too good for these horror MP's despite the fact they may show one or two nicities about them. Remember Vince Cable? Yeah that guy who was ROASTING the banksters to the delight of those who were losing their homes while the Govt was plunging the country into possibly ulti generational debt. Now look at him. It's like grimer wormtongue has cast a spell over him.

    • Duncan_McFarlan

      I agree with you on the Lib Dem leadership having sold out at the moment, but working from inside the big parties has at least as good a chance of success as working outside them. Either one is tough to do. If you look at the few independent candidates who've been elected they've mostly been either doctors (lots of patients and their families who already know and trust them), TV reporters (again well known figures) or else MPs/MSPs for a big party who have later left it (e.g George Galloway, Margo McDonald, Dennis Canavan).

      The Lib Dems certainly can't get PR this parliament – but if we get AV they may be able to get enough seats to get PR after the next election – and then we can vote for whoever we like and they've a chance of being elected.

      Clegg himself took decades working his way up through the party ranks before he had a chance to make a difference (for the worse). Maybe Craig can influence the Lib Dems for the better in the long run.

      Craig believes strongly in free trade and relatively small government. I don't entirely agree with him on that but i can understand why he joined the Lib Dems as the party that's the best approximation to his own principles. It has the most people with similar views to his own in it.

      He's also been very critical of Clegg, the Lib Dems and the Coalition on all kinds of issues since he joined the LDs.

      I don't think there's nearly enough internal democracy in Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems and that we should have a constitution which requires all parties to be internally democratic or be banned from putting up candidates in elections – but that's another chicken or egg problem.

  • johnm

    I think if they awarded £1 to everyones first choice, stopped the charitable status of political contributions, and paid it out over 5 years. Gave us the choice of none of the above and imposed an aussie style fine for not voting things might change.

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